The word paranormal refers to an event or encounter which is described as beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation. Many might dismiss these notions as hoaxes or the work of overactive imaginations, however it’s worth considering the evidence in support of 3 paranormal notions.
Ghosts and Hauntings
Ghost stories and folklore surrounding haunted places have been part of human culture for thousands of years. A ghost is said to be the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal which can make itself known to the living. Types of ghosts can vary widely. Ghosts can appear as lifelike apparitions or translucent barely visible wispy shapes. They may also be felt as an invisible presence or cold spot. Poltergeists, which translates from the Germen word for noisy ghosts, are said to be responsible for physical disturbances such as loud noises and moving or destroying objects. Poltergeists are also purportedly capable of attacking the living by shoving, hitting, and biting. If a certain location such as a building exhibits signs of paranormal activity it is considered haunted. There is at least some semi creditable scientific evidence to support the notion of ghosts and hauntings.
There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence collected in both ancient and modern times from numerous witnesses who claim to have experienced a ghostly encounter. The world-famous Tower of London for example, is well known as one of the most haunted places in the world. The Tower of London dates back over 900 years and has a bloody history full of war, murder, and executions. King Henry V was stabbed to death as he knelt in prayer in the Wakefield Tower in 1471, every anniversary since his death his ghost is said to appear pacing around the exact spot where he met his grisly end. Another royal ghost who resides at the Tower is Anne Boleyn the second wife of Henry VIII who was executed by beheading in May 1536. Her often headless apparition has been witnessed on several occasions dating as far back as 1864. The White House built in 1800 is another good example of a famous haunted location, presentational ghosts include former President Abraham Lincoln and former First Lady Abigail Adams.
Sceptics argue that most of these sightings can be put down to bored staff or tourists with overactive imaginations, however credible witnesses of ghost activity include police officers, medical professionals, and politicians like Winston Churchill. While staying at the White House, Churchill had just finished a bath and naked but for a cigar he was startled when walking into the adjoining bedroom he was met with Lincoln standing by the fireplace. Churchill supposedly not missing a beat greeted his unexpected guest and said “Good evening, Mr President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” Lincoln is reported to have smiled at this before disappearing. A good ghost story is not as solid proof as a picture.
Photos of ghosts have existed for as long as photography itself with the first ghostly image captured by W. Campbell from New Jersey. The photo was meant to feature only an empty chair, but once it was developed an image of a small boy was discovered. A year later in 1861 a Boston engraver named William Mumler took his own photograph only to find the image of a dead cousin had invaded the photograph. The photo was examined by a professional photographer of the time who declared them to be authentic in nature. Mumler produced several more photographs with ghostly images and is widely credited with launching the popularity of spirit photography. More recently in 2008 photographer Neil Sandbach was taking photos of a potential wedding location, a farm in Hertfordshire England. Later when he was examining his digital shots he was surprised a glowing ghostly boy peeking around the corner of a building.
Spirt photography was very easy to fake in the eighteen-hundreds due to long exposure time and its value as a novelty entertainment, however advancing technology and the popularity of smart phones has only led to an increase in ghostly images being captured. Many people dismiss these ghost tales as either superstition, the work of overactive imaginations, or even fraud and while this may explain some of the thousands of reported encounters it is still worth considering if there is perhaps more to this phenomenon.
Aliens and UFOS
The term UFO was first created in 1959 by the United States Air Force and stands for “unidentified flying object.” The US Air Force is said to have created the term UFO to keep track of the many aircrafts and missiles that were being tested during the Cold War. As a matter of national security any UFOs seen in the skies were intensely recorded. The term has since come to refer to flying objects which are suspected to have been created by alien or extra-terrestrial life. According to some conspiracy theories governments across the world have been hiding evidence of extra-terrestrial life and their flying vessels.
In 1961 married couple Barney and Betty Hill from Portsmouth, New Hampshire reported that they had been kidnapped by aliens. The couple stated that they had been followed by a flying saucer while driving their car before being abducted and subjected to physical examination. They also recalled observing a 3D “star map” inside the spacecraft. The Hills appeared creditable and maintained their story even under hypnosis. There was also the Phoenix lights incident where thousands of people in 1997 witnessed v-shaped patterns dance across the sky. The abundance of video captured makes it one of the best documented cases in UFO history. A 2008 incident became the subject of an episode of the tv show UFO Hunters. Six witnesses claimed they saw a strange object with a turquoise glow appear on May 14, with one witness stating that the object was followed by a series of helicopters. Ever since that night numerous people have searched for a crash site hoping to uncover some evidence of alien life. Sceptics believe the UFO was more likely to be an unmanned military aircraft, possibly part of a secret weapons program.
The Roswell Incident
The most famous UFO encounter to spark interest in the possibility of alien life, took place in New Mexico in 1947. An airborne object crashed on a ranch in what became known as the Roswell incident. The U.S military initially claimed that the recovered debris was from a “flying disc” before announcing that the wreckage belonged to a weather balloon. The public however found this explanation unbelievable and that the government were covering up the truth. Witnesses claimed to have seen not only the crashed UFO but also alien bodies. In 1994 it was finally revealed that the balloon was part of the top-secret Project Mogul, which sought to detect Soviet nuclear bomb tests, however some people still do not accept this explanation.
There is also some physical evidence to support the theory of alien life. The strange phenomenon of crop circles has been occurring across the world for decades. Crop circles are areas where standing crops such as corn have been flattened in the form of a circle or more complex patterns. Many people believe that these crop circles are created by aliens, perhaps to communicate with humans. In 1996 one of the world’s most stunning crop circle appeared in England, across a highway from the mysterious and ancient Stonehenge in the Wiltshire countryside. While some simple or rough circles might be explained as the result of weather, this the incredible pattern called a Julia Set formation was far too complicated to occur by national phenomenon and to date no human has claimed responsibility.
Bigfoot also known as sasquatch is a large ape like creature that is said to roam the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Although Bigfoot is most commonly depicted as an American creature, there is folklore across the world suggesting it is not unique to the Americans. The yeti also known as the abominable snowman, is an ape like creature taller than a human, with white thick fur which is said to inhabit the Himalayas. The native aboriginal people of Australia also have legends of Yowies. Yowies are described as large hairy apes which stand between 6 to 12 feet tall. Some believe these creatures might be the missing link between humans’ ancestors and great apes. Interest in Bigfoot grew rapidly during the second half of the 20th century, spurred by magazine articles of the time. The most notable article was a December 1959 article “True” describing the discovery of large, mysterious footprints in Bluff Creek California.
Hundreds of footprints attributed to the creatures have been collected over the years, measuring an average length of 15.6 inches with a width of 7.2 inches. Bob Titmus was a key figure in the Bigfoot community and been investigating the creature for almost 40 years. Titmus sought evidence of its existence and had an extensive collection of original footprint casts, most of them from tracks he discovered himself. In 1958 debuted a plaster of Paris cast of 16 inch footprints he found on a dirt road where he was working above Bluff Creek. A few weeks later Titmus and his friend Ed Patrick found and cast distinctly different 15 inch tracks, this time on a sandbar beside Bluff Creek. These tracks were in hard packed wet sand, yet they averaged an inch in depth, making it difficult to dismiss them as a hoax. The casts Titmus made on the sandbar are still possibly the best ever obtained. Bluff Creek would also be the location of some very famous Bigfoot film footage. More recently in 2019 the Indian army claimed to have discovered footprints in the Himalayas that appear to belong to a yeti. The footprints measure 32 inches by 15 inches and were found near Mount Makalu base camp. A spokesman told NBC News that the photographs of the footprints taken by the army’s mountaineering expedition team had been passed on to the scientific community for verification.
(Image: Video footage of from 1967 for is consider strong evidence for the existence of Bigfoot)
The Bigfoot Walk
The most famous and influential evidence of Bigfoot would be the 1967 footage shot by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in Northern California. In the footage a tall ape like figure walks through a forested area upright. Sceptics argue that the footage is simply a person wearing a gorilla suit, but The Bigfoot walk it depicts has been parodied by many, but no one seems able to truly replicate its strange movement. Patterson died of cancer in 1972 and “maintained right to the end that the creature on the film was real.” Gimlin also denied being involved in any part of a hoax and consistently stated that the footage was real.
Folklore surrounding Bigfoot is common amongst many of the Northwest Native American tribes. According to their legends Bigfoot is described as around 6-9 feet tall, hairy, strong, and often has a foul smell. They are said to live in the woods and forage at night. They are meant to be able to communicate with each other using gestures, whistles, and grunts. How these creatures behave towards humans varies greatly between tribal legends. According to some tribes Bigfoot are generally shy and benign figures. Sometimes even trading or exchanging gifts with humans. Other Bigfoot myths warn that they are dangerous creatures who will try to trick, kidnap, or eat humans. Some stories say they have supernatural powers such as the ability to turn invisible, but they are considered physical creatures of the forest rather than spirits or ghosts.